In this day and age, you either had one of these or probably knew someone who had it.
For me, it was a boy from Minnesota. We met over an AOL message board for Smashing Pumpkins fans. We talked every day for a good six months . I wore a silver shirt when I met him at the Orlando International Airport. The next day, without cell phones and with me on a Lynx bus, signals were crossed and it was slightly disastrous. The day after, my best friend aided and abetted some double crossing of my mother. During the whole exchange with me and the boy – his summer right before college and for me, the summer before 11th grade – there was lots of symbolism, drama, and imagined grandeur. I mean, come on. We were teenage Smashing Pumpkins fans. OF COURSE it was hyper-dramatic. (Have you ever listened to Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness in its entirety? Or even said the title aloud?)
He probably figured out pretty immediately that we couldn’t sustain a relationship after walking around a few days in the broiling Florida heat – in August, no less. It took a few months for the official break to happen. And it was, indeed, a moment in time, captured by jpgs and early blogs. (Diaryland, anyone?)
But rather than write a Camera Obscura song about it, or even a NYT op-ed, I moved on. Moved forward. We didn’t talk much afterwards. He immed me the night I’d found out my father had died. Again. Symbolism. A good 10 years on, me and that same aforementioned boy are facebook friends, and apparently he went to the same high school (in some of the same time frame) as Gina’s boyfriend. (Gina being my partner on The Five Percent Rule.)
It’s a small, weird, world, and the rate at which we’ve become connected since those days on AOL chat, when your modem could fail eight times before connecting you (especially if you were desperate to talk to someone), is amazing.
(My mental soundtrack to reading/writing this: “Swans” Camera Obscure (of course); “Minneapolis” That Dog.)